OPINION: Anzac Day is always the time to reflect on the futility of war, particularly the full-scale versions like those that engulfed the world last century.
We get a daily clinical dose of war beamed into our living rooms from far-flung exotic locations in Africa and the Middle East.
Mixed up in this coverage is the new war on increasingly pervasive terrorism, designed at every level to make us worry about our personal security, wherever we may be.
Most of us have run the odds, and rationalised that the most dangerous part of our lives starts when we back out of driveways every morning to play Russian roulette on our roads.
A terrorist bullet or bomb or a cruise missile ending our lives seems like a long shot that we should never encounter.
The spectre of nuclear war seemed to have long disappeared in the mists of time.
Monochromatic documentaries of the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis were more like quaint Humphrey Bogart movies than the world on the brink of annihilation.
Almost 60 years on, it’s hard to imagine families in Europe and America gathered around their radios in tears as John F Kennedy delivered his ultimatum to the USSR, leaving the next play to his notoriously unpredictable Russian counterpart.
I was yet to be born in 1962, but I’m assuming that apart from the mutually-assured destruction bit, most Kiwis would have felt comfortably removed from strategic and diplomatic machinations in another hemisphere.
Cuba, Russia, inter-continental ballistic missiles and U2 spy planes would have been the fanciful domain of James Bond movies, were it not for the fact that first James Bond movie, Dr No, was coincidentally released a week before the Cuban crisis.
Fast-forward a few decades and the script has been rewritten with a few new characters, but the plot is still the same.
Nuclear missiles and fleets of warships.
American presidents and unstable despots.
U2 became a band, and was upgraded to spy satellite.
To add spice to the script of Missile Crisis 2: The Trump Ultimatum, introduce a new protagonist in the form of China and you have a potential blockbuster for the ages.
What’s changed this time is the setting.
It’s not the Caribbean or the Atlantic Ocean, it’s the South China Sea and the Pacific.
This time it’s in our backyard.
It feels quite containable, otherwise we’d all be sitting around our TVs, wailing and awaiting Armageddon.
North Korea only has 15 nuclear weapons and only the fourth-largest army in the world, and the major powers aren’t sabre-rattling yet.
We’re spectators again in the game of global brinkmanship.
All we can hope is that, like Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev before them, Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un act rationally and responsibly, with the best interests of the planet in mind.
Oh my God…
David Kennedy has resigned as Ngai Tahu Tourism’s southern regional boss and is moving his family to Christchurch. He’ll be sadly missed